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Australian stud career for Xtravagant
27 Jan 2017

Last season’s champion three-year-old Xtravagant has been sold and is destined for a stud career at Newhaven Park in New South Wales.

The deal between Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis and the Kelly family of Newhaven Park was completed this week and Xtravagant is expected to take up duties next spring.

Xtravagant was a surprise withdrawal from last week’s Gr. 1 Telegraph, having been the long-time favourite for the big Trentham sprint but failing to satisfy connections that he would be at peak for the race. Whether he races again for his new owners is a decision that has yet to be made.

In announcing Xtravagant’s change of ownership to The Informant, Ellis took time to reflect on the Pentire colt’s spectacular racing career balanced by some major disappointments.

“He was a horse that the Te Akau team were proud to train and own,” Ellis said. “I bought him for $370,000 as a yearling from the Karaka Premier Sale and he lived right up to our expectations from the start.

“He won his first start as a two-year-old by more than seven lengths pulling up, and then at three he won two Group One races by a combined total of more than 16 lengths.

“His win in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas was for me the thrill of a lifetime. He ran the fastest 1600 metres ever in the Riccarton classic and then he beat all-comers when he won the weight-for-age NRM Sprint at Te Rapa.”

After that win Xtravagant made his first trip to Australia, but came home empty-handed after finishing midfield in the Gr. 1 Australian Guineas. He had one further start at three, easily winning the Gr. 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes from star southern filly First Serve.

“He raced every month at three from September to April and to think he won five times in what was a very demanding season speaks volumes for the horse himself and for his trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards,” Ellis added.

“He was recognised for his achievements when he was voted New Zealand’s champion three-year-old over an outstanding line-up that included seven other Group One winners. An international panel of handicappers rated him New Zealand’s highest rated three-year-old since Bonecrusher in the 1980s.”

Ellis concedes that Xtravagant’s career, comprising six wins from 12 starts and more than $480,000, contained its disappointments as well, but having completed his sale to Newhaven, harbours no regrets.

“At his best he was the measure of any horse around and while he provided us with some huge highs as well as some lows, you can’t have any regrets,” he said. “I selected him at Karaka as a member of a colts’ investment syndicate and in that respect he was an undoubted success.

“The other horses in that syndicate – Splurge, Rocksun and Beacon Of Hope – have all won, and Splurge, who we unfortunately had to geld, is well placed to complete a hat-trick at Trentham this weekend.”

As is his tradition for years, Elis will be in full flight ringside at next week’s National Yearling Sale, where he will bid to once again lead the buyers’ bench.

“I have another colts’ syndicate which is almost fully subscribed and after studying the catalogue and doing our inspections, I’m positive that I will be able to buy a quality bunch of young horses.

“It’s always an exciting time of year for me and everybody at Te Akau. With Xtravagant’s sale (at a reported seven-figure sum), the people who have done well out of him will be able to reinvest.”

Ellis is likewise excited at what awaits Xtravagant in his new life at stud. “The Kelly family of Newhaven Park have a fantastic reputation as breeders and I’m absolutely delighted that Xtravagant will get such a great opportunity there.

“Not only is he by a sire with a superb record with progeny winning over all distances throughout Australasia, but he’s out of a mare by the champion sire Zabeel. It’s also a huge plus that Xtravagant is completely free of Danehill blood, which is so rarely found in modern day pedigrees.

“I understand that the syndicate that the Kellys have formed contains all the big names of Australian breeding and with the entitlements I have I will definitely be supporting him as well.

“Whether he gets to race again is a decision that has yet to be made by his new owners, but if he does they have committed to leaving him with Stephen and Jamie. Whatever they decide, I wish them all the very best.”

Newhaven Park's John Kelly has confirmed that Xtravagant will take up duites at a fee of A$15,000.

"He was a breathtaking racehorse with phenomenal speed," Kelly said. "He is a superb looking individual with a truly international pedigree that is an outcross for Australia's Danehill line mares.

"He has all the attributes we look for in a stallion and we look forward to presenting him to Australian breeders this spring."

Dennis Ryan

The Informant